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Lessons from Doozer

 I've never blogged about this...I wasn't sure how. It's felt like I'm holding delicate little flowers that needed time to open and grow.  But the other day, I found myself, once again, talking about my little Doozer (her nickname for privacy sake)...my niece...and the lessons that I've learned from her.  And that's when I asked her mom (my sister) for permission to share, because in her little life holds some of the most profound lessons I'm still trying to learn.

I remember sitting on the couch at Easter Seals in Peoria, IL.  I watched my sister walk up to me with little Doozer and her brother after their appointments to have their hearing checked.  When we got in the car, Rebekah, who rarely cries, shared with me that their hearing was completely fine.  However, the staff strongly suggested her children be tested for Autism.  

I was confused...they must be wrong.  How could that be?..yeah, they had to be wrong.  But something in my gut said they probably weren't.  I can still hear the questions Rebekah asked...questions coming from the very core of a mother's heart...I rarely see Rebekah cry for herself...on the rare occasion that tears come, they're usually reserved for her family...mainly her beautiful little babies.  They came...and a lot of the car ride home was silent.  With the suggested diagnosis came a flood of unknowns...when I imagined Autism, I imagined the severest form of it...because that's all I knew it to be.

The following weeks brought a final diagnosis...PDD-NOS or Atypical Autism.  From my very juvenile understanding...Doozer and her brother, J, are on the Autism spectrum and they have characteristics of it, but are pretty mild in how it plays out in their life.  Trust me...it's there, and we can see it...but my own personal opinion, especially in Doozer's life, is that it just put an exclamation mark to her personality...and therein lies the foundation as to why so many people have heard me say, "I want to be like Doozer when I grow up"...

(Doozer pictured with her brother G)

She is the truest form of an artist that I know.  She's not only extremely gifted artistically, but she uses it to express what she's thinking and her view in life.  Ask her mom and dad, she literally HAS to create art...she'll find little scraps of paper if she has to, in order to draw, tape, staple, or glue something together. She creates beautiful little pieces of art with flowers and leaves.  When all the words don't line up just right or clear...her art speaks for itself...

She's not easily won over...don't get me wrong.  She's an absolute sweetheart.  But you've got to take your time to win her over.  She's not going to give her affection over in 5 min...you have to earn it.  But once you've won her...you've got her.  Our family has each said that we each reserve a very special and soft place in our heart for Doozer...because there's something so special about her spirit and personality.  My brother-in-law, Jarod, and she have a particularly sweet little bond that has been there since she was a baby girl.  He loves on her and she lets him in a way that is so sweet to watch.  

When my dad first married Rika, she came not being able to speak much English at all...and the lack of words forced Rika to use a lot of hand gestures...visuals...something Doozer got.  They communicated through playing, hugs, and we were amazed how God used both of them for each other to show love.  I'd guess that Rika would be one of Doozer's bff's if you were to ask her.

She doesn't live in the confines of being self-concious.  She dances if she wants to, sings and laughs to the full and genuine extent that she feels it in her heart. I love that so much.

Doozer lives in a world of absolute delight.  She takes time to delight in things...she's not afraid to squeel, "I'm sooo berry, berry happy!" She feels deeply and fully...and she lives in a world that princesses are her friends and fairies are real.  I'd love to live in her world...but since I can't, I peek in as often as I can.

She's also quite the little actress and can put on quite a dramatic show and cry some pretty good fake tears...but secretly, I think it's hilarious. :) ...I'm sure her mother doesn't.

I don't mean to romanticize her life...because it's not all laughter and singing.  When I see other girls her age, I'm aware that our little Doozer's vocabulary isn't nearly as extended and her speech as clear.  Our conversations maybe sound a little different where my questions to her are a lot more specific...

I'm very aware of what life on a daily basis sounds like for my brother in law and sister who are raising two children with Autistic characteristics.  They're my heros...I've gotta say.  Because they're just raising their children...they're loving, teaching, and encouraging them when they can.  They have an ability to meet them where they're at and guide them from there.  


Yeah...I want to be like Doozer when I grow up.  Words like 'authentic' and 'genuine' are thrown around a lot these days...but if they look anything like her, I want to be those things.  I want to take time to feel the delights in life and express them.  She battles through life with joy, laughing as loud as she wants...maybe a sidedish of drama at times...but what she feels, she feels it fully.  I think she's one of the coolest people I know...and she's my little hero. 

Someday, I'll introduce you to her brother, J...and his love of all things electronic, his ability to feel profound spiritual concepts at such a young age, and how a hug melts him every time...yeah, his post is coming too. :) 

17 comments:

Britni said...

so sweet. thx for sharing!

Tara said...

Awe this made me teary reading it! She's such a cutie!

leah said...

oh this made me get all teary. this is beautiful inside & out.

alisonsutter said...

I hate crying about things that don't deserve tears. But the tears today don't feel like that. More like a hug to you through the Internet. I've got a lot to learn from this little lady. Thanks for letting us peek inside this precious world.

emilykate said...

Loved every word of this!

Carmen O. said...

She is so incredibly special. Here is something about her that grabs you and won't let you go.

Carmen O. said...

She is so incredibly special. Here is something about her that grabs you and won't let you go.

J Gutwein said...

It is silly to me how much children are expected to conform to a "normal" these days. Sometimes when Luca is making people uncomfortable with his energy level it makes me a little happy. D is beautiful. Love, Jenny

Anonymous said...

beautiful words and beautiful little girl.

Sarah said...

I was nodding in agreement, smiling, & crying through this post. Doozer is such a special little girl with such a pleasant disposition.

Thank you for sharing this Tami, it means so much.

And, yes, M & R are some of my heroes too.

Anonymous said...

Tami you have an amazing way of expressing things I think but don't know how to say. And after your explanation of having to "warm up" to Doozer I realize how lucky I am that she gets excited when I come in the door and runs to give me a hug. I take that for granted living so far away. Thanks for sharing what's on most of our hearts!
Booxy

smw said...

so sweet. :)

Daveana said...

So sweet Tami! Thank you so much for sharing!

Kendra said...

So sweet:) Thanks for sharing Tami!

Pam said...

This is so well written, Tami. It touched my heart and made my hubby cry. You have a gift for writing, among many other things!

Little Doozer does have such a special spirit and one can't know her without being drawn to her. I love that little lady so much and, like you, wish I could enter her world with her more often.

Anonymous said...

Tami,
Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful post. I too am crying not because I'm sad but because I feel so blessed to be D's Grandma.

M and R are doing such a great job raising their special family.

I just want to add one other description of D: Unspoiled. We recently took a trip together to the American Girl Store in Chicago. She was a shear delight! She adored Molly the doll she picked out, cradled her in her arms,spoke words of love and comfort to her. Never begged for anything else just thrilled in the joy of her "beautiful Molly".

Thanks, Gma K

heidi said...

I love this! And I love Bonnie's comment too!!!

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